Merriam-Webster Adds ‘Bitcoin’ to Unabridged Dictionary


Merriam-Webster Adds ‘Bitcoin’ to Unabridged Dictionary

Proof of Bitcoin’s entry into public consciousness has come in form of the term being added to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Also read: Bitcoinec Launches Bitcoin Relief Fund for Equador Earthquake Victims

Better Late Than Never

The US publisher announced the move today as part of an update of around 2,000 items to be added to the reference work.

The dictionary references Bitcoin as:

A digital currency created for use in peer-to-peer online transactions.

mw-logo-245x245@1x“Even though communication is faster, that doesn’t mean the heartbeat of language is faster,” the dictionary’s editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski told Time. “It takes time to assimilate words and make words new citizens of a language.”

Merriam-Webster has indeed taken its time to formally assimilate Bitcoin, coming two-and-a-half years after the Oxford English Dictionary Online in August 2013.

The latter made a more technical analysis of the term ‘Bitcoin’, describing it as “A type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank…”.

Two years later, acted to incorporate associated terms such as ‘blockchain’ and add further meanings of the word ‘Miner’ to reflect on the process used to create new units of digital currency.

Merriam-Webster’s definition

The blockchain definition was more reserved than that for Bitcoin, and is akin to the Merriam-Webster format. ‘Blockchain’ officially is “A digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.”

A ‘miner’ is “A person who obtains units of a cryptocurrency by running computer processes to solve specific mathematical problems,” according to the publication.

However, Bitcoin and associated terms are still absent from the official Oxford English Dictionary, with the online resource aimed at referencing current language usage. For reference, also inserted in the database with ‘blockchain’ and ‘miner’ were such items as ‘hangry’ and ‘butt-dial’, with ‘Redditor’ also appearing for the first time.

Bitcoin’s Dictionary ‘Value’

Merriam-Webster, however, is concerned with adding words which have value. “Their decision to add each new word is, in a sense, a bet that it has made a mark on the language worth remembering or that it will stick around for the foreseeable future,” Time notes.

Nonetheless, along with ‘Bitcoin’ this month comes ‘FOMO’, an acronym for ‘fear of missing out’ little known outside the US, as well as ‘Mx.’, a supposedly gender-neutral method of address in written correspondence.

It remains to be seen whether cryptocurrency terms will transcend the realm of the internet to become formally adopted in the near future.

Do you agree with the definition? Will it help boost Bitcoin’s image? Let us know in the comments sections below!

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William Suberg

William Suberg is a freelance digital tech journalist who has written extensively about Bitcoin, the blockchain and the evolving cryptocurrency ecosystem for a variety of publications. He has been writing for since January 2016.

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